Northern Italy & Burgundy 2011

Romanesque Abbeys and Churches

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini


Since antiquity, Burgundy has had a rich artistic heritage.  In the 11th and 12th centuries, conditions led to its architecture and sculpture developing extraordinarily.  The influence of the Romanesque School of Burgundy spread across Europe.   During this period, Burgundy was loosely controlled by its rulers and the church became the primary power in the region.

Fontenay Abbey is a good example of a self-sustaining 12th century Cistercian monastery.  It was prosperous until the 16th century and sold during the French Revolution.  It became a paper mill and was stripped.  It was rebuilt during the 20th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Autun was founded by the Emperor Augustus and important for many centuries.  The 12th century tympanum of the Cathédral St-Lazare showing the Last Judgement is a masterpiece of Romanesque art. Departing from tradition, the sculptor, Gislebertus, had a unique style and took credit for his work.

Built in a time when most monasteries were autonomous, Cluny organized a federated order of 3000 Benedictine daughter houses in the 150 years after it was founded in 910.  Its allegiance was to the pope and it was very rich and influential.  Pope Urban II said, “You are the light of the world.” about this immense establishment.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Significant other parts of the abbey survive.  What is gone has been recreated on screens that show the virtual reality as they are tipped and turned.

Most of the abbey church, now called Cluny III, was built between 1088 and 1130.  Having a 581 foot nave, it was the largest building in Europe for centuries. In the 18th century it was reduced to a quarry.  Only the south transept survived, as seen on the left.  It is the sharp part of the image on the right. 

The abbey was fortified and now a city exists within its old walls.  Old and new are never separate.

The photographs were taken with Leica cameras, the M8, M9 and D-LUX 3.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. We can be contacted via e-mail at   Our home page is

January 11, 2012                                                                                                                                                                                                                      wgfm

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